Clampdown faces protests from Bangladeshi parties
More than 8,300 people were arrested in a nationwide crackdown in Bangladesh on escalating crime, drug-smuggling and cross-border human-trafficking at the weekend, officials said Tuesday.
Senior police officers in Dhaka said terrorists, roughnecks and fugitives from the law were the targets of the special drive by a combined force of the army, the paramilitary border guards and riot police, while denying accusations that the present clampdown was focused on curbing political rights, reported dpa .
"The goal of the drive is to enforce the law to create a favourable climate for holding the upcoming general election in a free and credible manner," Inspector General of Police Noor Mohammad said.
The country's police supremo told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in the capital Dhaka that the primary focus would be on terrorists, and law-abiding citizens would not be harassed.
The police chief said those who were being jailed now were held under specific charges.
The mainstream opposition Awami League led by former premier Sheikh Hasina from detention has expressed deep concerns over the mass arrests of political workers across the country.
Activists from the former ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party of another mainstream leader Khaleda Zia were also detained to answer allegations they accepted graft for government contracts in violation of government rules.
The authorities said a total of 8,325 people were arrested on diverse charges in a 24-hour combing operation starting from Monday noon.
At least 40 unlicensed firearms were seized from the detainees during the operation.
General M A Matin, adviser to the Home Ministry in the military backed interim government, claimed that no one was jailed in recent weeks on political grounds as they all had names in police records as suspected criminals.
A state of emergency was declared in January 2007 as a stand-off between Hasina and Zia, both former prime ministers, pushed the South Asian country to the brink of anarchy.
Earlier the army extended support to President Iajuddin Ahmed to appoint a non-partisan caretaker regime to hold parliamentary polls expected to restore a Westminster style of democratic rule.
The caretaker government pledged to hold a free and acceptable election by December after lifting the emergency rule.
Major political parties have rejected the caretaker government's proposal that they register with the Election Commission, declaring their sources of funding as part of the electoral reforms for transparent polls.